Thailand’s bourse is set to roll out a digital asset trading platform in the second half of this year, enabling both retail and institutional investors to trade all types of digital tokens. Cryptocurrency, however, will not be part of the offering due to money laundering concerns, according to a local news report published by Bangkok Post on Wednesday.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) announced in October that it will launch the digital asset exchange using the blockchain-based payment technology from KBank’s technology arm Kasikorn Business-Technology Group. The exchange is set to operate as a secondary market, with the first token fundraising slated for later this year, according to a release from the SET.
SET’s executive vice president Kitti Sutthiatthasil told the Bangkok Post that there are prerequisites for the tokens to be listed. It must be possible to analyze and value the underlying assets and the product has to support economic activities and have benefits for society and the environment. He warned that cryptocurrencies pose money laundering risks which could hamper investor confidence and the “high-trust” reputation of the SET.
The news comes shortly after Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday ordered Bitkub, the country’s largest cryptocurrency platform, to suspend trading, after its system crashed three times in the first two weeks of January.
“It is unfortunate that it happened locally,” Akalarp Yimwilai, CEO of the digital exchange Zipmex told KrASIA. “The SEC had to take the necessary action. The popularity of Bitcoin and the evolution of the digital asset industry has created a high level of standard expected from investors.”
Yimwilai believes that the topic should be handled differently. “Cryptocurrencies have been developed to alleviate the pain points from existing exchanges,” he said. “Money laundering finds a way to use it as a tool, but law enforcement should deal with the unlawful activities.”
These are two different things for him. “Crypto exchanges exist to serve the purpose of financial inclusion and building trust in a trustless system,” said Yimwilai. “Cryptocurrencies should not be blamed because law enforcement failed to do its work.”
Thailand’s digital economy is expected to reach USD 18 billion in 2020, and top USD 53 billion by 2025, according to the Google-Temasek-Bain report released in 2020.
Yimwilai thinks that the digital economy will be the “growth driver” of Thailand and the Asia Pacific region this year which will help accelerate the digital asset industry. He explains that both the private and public sector are building the foundation for an inclusive cross-border remittance ecosystem and refers to the ongoing collaboration that includes Lightnet Group, Velo Labs, Asia Digital Bank, and local partners. “Digital assets will be an option to many investors,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, another crypto exchange named Upbit, which is backed by a group of Thai billionaires including Fortune Magazine-owner Chatchaval Jiaravanon, Energy Absolute CEO Somphote Ahunai and Preecha Praipattarakul, commenced operations, according to a local media report.